PS3 Previews: MX vs. ATV: Untamed Preview

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MX vs. ATV: Untamed Preview

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Scheduled release date:

December 17, 2007

If you're a fan of MotorStorm, you probably want to pay attention: Rainbow Studios is preparing MX vs. ATV: Untamed for most all major platforms, so all you off-road fanatics out there will get another go-round in a variety of sweet vehicles, and it's coming just in time for Christmas. This is one title that has been built from the ground up, which means we're looking at a fully realized racer that will feature more customization options and super-realistic physics. You'll be popping wheelies, performing all kinds of stunts and tricks, and yes, you can even create your own tricks if you experiment enough with the analog control. Off-road racing titles are getting more and more popular these days, so the competition is getting stiffer and stiffer...can this one compete with the more recognizable titles in DiRT and Sega Rally Revo? Well, you can use multiple vehicles, very much unlike those other two, so that's a good start, right?

The highly interactive environments should also be a big bonus for MX vs. ATV: Untamed. There will be a total of 10 outdoor areas where you will test your dirt-roadin' skills in any number of very different events. These race environments won't all look the same, either; players will be competing all around the world, in backdrops that range greatly from deserts to snowy fields to mountain regions. All of these areas are probably a lot bigger than you might expect, too, which is why the developers have included a Free Ride mode, which simply lets you head out and explore on your own. Perhaps you will find shortcuts for the upcoming event, you never know... One of the best additional features to Free Ride is the ability to start a race event without having to exit out to the main menu: once you're done zipping around the new landscape, simply drive on up to the starting line and get ready to race! Now that's a good idea.

But then again, Rainbow Studios seems to have a lot of good ideas for this one, including brand new event types even veteran racing fans may find very original. The first of these is an event called Endurocross, which THQ needed to nab the official license for in order to utilize. If you're not familiar, the format for Endurocross is similar to that of Supercross - you race in an indoor arena on a specially designed track - but a horde of obstacles lie in your path to victory. You'll have to deal with piles of rocks, giant tires, pools of water, big ol' tree trunks, and anything else they feel like tossing in your way. This will make for a very challenging and dynamic event, guaranteed. The other new event is Opencross, which will send you across huge outdoor environments, and that means you had best know the landscape (use Free Ride!). During these events, you can choose whatever vehicle you wish, so if you feel more comfortable in an ATV, go with that.

As for the single-player "campaign," you'll be playing through the X-Cross Tournament. This series of events is pretty standard; certain victories will open up new events, but you do have a significant amount of freedom. You can either follow one event path through the tournament - which means you'll finish faster, but you won't get the variety - or you can choose to enter different events along the way to make the experience more robust. Besides, it's best to get some practice during your progression, just because if you want to truly complete the game, you'll have to excel in all styles, from Supercross to Motorcross to Supermoto to the aforementioned new events. And best of all, regardless of which event you choose, the racing physics should remain solid and true-to-life. Rainbow is using a more traditional third-person view, but the view sits squarely with your character, allowing the player to really sink into the action. For example, when coming down off a jump, your head will pitch forward, messing up your vision for a second or two.

The game will also boast the option of a Pro control setting, a feature that may only appeal to the hardcore. If you enable this form of control, you'll be required to handle more of the racing with your own button presses, and your timing and precision had better be spot-on. We honestly have no idea how simulated the experience will be, but hopefully, it will satisfy all those gamers out there who want a true-to-life off-road depiction. In most every way, Rainbow seems to have taken the next step beyond the original title, and the gameplay should remain both entertaining and accessible to just about everyone. You have numerous off-road vehicles, plenty of different events, and if you can't find something to do when playing, you're simply not a fan of the genre. Remember, it's not just straightforward racing; tricks and stunts factor in, and when you include Free Ride and special events like Endurocross and Opencross, MX vs. ATV: Untamed should be an engrossing and highly accomplished title.

A few last tidbits for ya- firstly, 12 players will be able to go online at once and participate in any event. Furthermore, if you open up a Free Ride event, that room can stay open while players enter and exit; when you have enough people exploring the environment, you can all agree to head to the starting point. Again, another good idea. The last good idea - see, we told you there were several of them - centers on Rainbow's unique approach to loading the game. We know some of you have trouble waiting for games to load, but fear not: you'll have something to do while you're waiting, here. During loading, the game will quickly bring up a test track for you to tool around in while the actual event loads up. This is the kind of thing where you say to yourself, "hey...how come nobody thought of this before?" Very often, it's the little things that make games great, especially if they all come together to enhance the overall experience. Obviously, this game has a lot going for it, so we have the highest possible hopes for this off-road racer.

After all, look who's doing it: Rainbow Studios. They've proven they can take care of this genre blindfolded and with their hands tied behind their backs. So we have faith! Expect to see MX vs. ATV: Untamed hit store shelves for the PS3, Xbox 360, PS2, PSP, Wii, and DS on December 17.

10/3/2007 Ben Dutka

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